Rihanna once stated her goal of becoming the “black Madonna.” Now, 10 years after announcing that ambition to the world, she’s earning praise as having surpassed her goal. But while critics are giving Rihanna kudos as the new-and-improved Material Girl, is it really safe for them to ignore Madonna?
When Rihanna started on her path to earning that “black Madonna” title, she wasn’t alone in declaring her desire of equaling Madonna. However, Rihanna was the singer heralded as already on her way to achieving her ambition, noted Billboard, which heralded her as now having surpassed her goal.
Although Rihanna could have followed Janet Jackson’s lead by using pitch-perfect choreography with sexy appeal, she chose instead to equal Madonna by taking risks. The ultimate goal: Become the Queen of Pop in ways that can be quantified with records and sales, in addition to carving out her own niche as a role model rather than tread in someone else’s footsteps.
Katy Perry recently praised Beyonce as “our modern-day Michael Jackson.” But to achieve that goal of becoming the “black Madonna,” Rihanna is earning recognition as a modern day Madonna in ways beyond music. From fashion to philanthropy, Rihanna deserves to be placed on a parallel throne to Beyonce, noted Billboard.
Just like Madonna, Rihanna has received attention for changing the music world and leading others to follow. Her dubstep hits “Wait Your Turn” and “Rockstar 101” led to dub-pop triumphs such as Britney Spears’ “Hold It Against Me” and Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble.” From “Work” to “Rude Boy,” Rihanna deserves thanks from Drake, Sia, and Justin Bieber for their hits that succeeded by using that Caribbean flavor.
Rihanna’s music videos also have led to her “black Madonna” title, with the singer’s silver body paint in “Umbrella” seen as paying tribute to Madonna in “Fever. ” Outside of those videos, Rihanna has become a trailblazer in fashion and even hairstyles, pointed out Billboard.
It’s a world where social media matters, and Rihanna has become one of the most followed stars both on Instagram and Twitter. That’s led to her increased visibility as an actress, including the all-women cast for Ocean’s 8 with Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, and Anne Hathaway. That role is also earning comparisons to Madonna, such as Desperately Seeking Susan.
Bates Motel executive producer Carlton Cuse also praised Rihanna for transitioning into the acting world.
“[Rihanna] has enormous charisma.”
Contending that there’s a reason why so many singers have “successfully transitioned into acting,” the executive producer mentioned Rihanna in reference to his own personal favorites, Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra.
Rihanna also has earned comparisons to Madonna when it comes to philanthropy. The singer’s VIVA Mac Glam lipstick line helps by benefiting the MAC Aids Fund, while her annual Diamond Ball fundraiser for the Clara Lionel Foundation seeks to provide support to underprivileged communities in health, education, and art. Those charitable causes are akin to Madonna’s efforts in AIDS research and link to groups including UNICEF.
When Rihanna received the Humanitarian of the Year Award at Harvard University, she revealed what it meant to her in terms of her goals.
“I would say to myself, ‘When I grow up and I get rich, I’m gonna save kids all over the world.’ I just didn’t know I would be in a position to do that by the time I was a teenager.”
So does all this mean that it’s time for Madonna to move over and allow Rihanna her spotlight? Not just yet.
Madonna recently announced that her new concert film will be released this autumn. Taped during Madonna’s concerts in March 2016, her new film Rebel Heart Tour has a release date of September 15, reported Rolling Stone.
Although the live film initially debuted on Showtime in December 2016, the upcoming version will feature bonus content, including taking viewers behind the scenes. Previously unreleased footage of the live show also will be featured. The film was taped during Madonna’s Sydney, Australia, concerts last year.
And for those who want to compare Rihanna and Madonna, the Rebel Heart Tour film provides the perfect opportunity. The set list takes viewers through the hits that comprised Madonna’s career, along with her new interpretations of classics. Among the anticipated renditions are “Like A Prayer,” “Secret” and “Don’t Tell Me,” as well as the singer’s first in-concert performance of “Take a Bow.”
[Featured Image by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Roc Nation]